Artists: Pete Woods, Brad Walker, Mike Lilly, Al Barrionuevo, Jon Proctor, Mike Huddleston, Paul Gulacy & Kinsun Loh
I've recently decided to go through my entire Batman collection, and review them, but in graphic novel form as it'd take ages otherwise. This is my fifth review on the series now, and I'm onto the second part of the epic War Games crossover, which was a big changing point in the Batman series.
The war for Gotham City continues, and there's been a major fatality, and people start to question are the vigilantes to blame. Also a big player reveals themselves.
This was a brilliant continuation of this brilliant crossover event. Like my previous review I won't go into detail about every writer, and artist involved, but I will say about the ones I preferred, and things I liked or disliked in general writing, and art wise. I will also list the writers, and artists, and what issue they worked on in case you're wondering what issues I'm talking about. The writers were, Andersen Gabrych (Part 1: Detective Comics #798), A. J. Lieberman (Part 2: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #183, Part 4: Batman: Gotham Knights #57), Devin Grayson (Part 3: Nightwing #97), Bill Willingham (Part 5: Robin #130, Part 8: Batman #632), Dylan Horrocks (Part 6: Batgirl #56), Ed Brubaker (Part 7: Catwoman #35). Like Act One the writing was overall brilliant, and although overall not quite as driven, or exciting as Act One, this was still a very good book, and there isn't much I can fault about it apart from it not being quite as exciting, or shocking, even though it had it's moments. The writers that I felt did the best job in this book were once again Willingham, but this time he is joined with Brubaker. Every writer did a brilliant job, but these were the two that stood out a little more, as the issues they worked on had more surprise, and were overall more entertaining. Also like last book the best issue was Robin, by Willingham, and although I'm slightly biased towards Tim Drake as Robin, due to him being my favourite Robin, it doesn't mean I'm actually biased towards the comics as there have been fabulous stories featured throughout his time as a member of the Bat-Family, and terrible stories as well, but I felt that like the previous volume this issue had the most suspense, and overall shock, making for a very interesting read. Willingham also did a good job on Batman, but unlike his Batman issue from Act One this one wasn't quite as exciting, and didn't leave me needing to read Act Three as quick as possible, unlike Act One. Brubaker was the next best writer in this book as he continued the suspense from Willingham's Robin issue perfectly, and although Horrocks worked on Batgirl between that it didn't quite continue the suspense and drama that the Robin issue had. All the other writers also did a brilliant job on this book, and although as I already said overall it wasn't quite as exciting as Act One there wasn't actually anything writing wise that I didn't like.
Like the writing, there were ton's of great artists working on this book, and it was all fantastic, but obviously some were better than others. The artists that worked on this book were, Pete Woods (Part 1: Detective Comics #798), Brad Walker (Part 2: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #183), Mike Lilly (Part 3: Nightwing #97), Al Barrionuevo (Part 4: Batman: Gotham Knights #57), Jon Proctor (Part 5: Robin #130), Mike Huddleston (Part 6: Batgirl #56), Paul Gulacy (Part 7: Catwoman #35), and Kinsun Loh (Part 8: Batman #632). Overall the art was brilliant, and very detailed, and I liked it all to a certain extent, but like Act One there were some artists work that I liked more, and some that I liked less. The art I liked more were from Woods, Walker, and Barraionuevo, as I felt their art was much more realistic, and dynamic, and stood out a lot. more. It was mainly the way they draw the characters that made me prefer their art, with the facial expressions that Barraionuevo showed being what stood out from his art, as loved the way he was able to show shock on Spoiler's (Stephanie Brown) face even though she has a mask covering everything. Besides them that stood out the art was overall good, and better than most people, but I did however feel that Gulacy, and Proctor's artwork looked a little awkward, and unrealistic at times, which was a bit disappointing, but it was however still decent, and better than a lot of other artists work, and didn't ruin the story.
The first Act of War Games ended with the notion that vigilantism isn't good for Gotham, and the way this story has developed it would seem that way. The question of vigilantism in comics has been shown way before this story, but it hits the nail, giving the question of would there be all these super villains if there weren't people like Batman around, and if Gotham would be better without them. I've always felt that hero's are needed, and although there are villains that exist cause of Batman there would be plenty others that would pray on the innocent otherwise. I do however like how this story has shown that though as it brings despair and uncertainty to the characters involved.
The return of Robin. The first issue of this Act sees Tim return as Robin, feeling that Gotham needs him as Robin more than his dad needs him to keep his promise. I won't go into much plot detail whilst talking about this as to avoid spoilers, but I was happy to see Tim back as Robin (even though this is an older event, I can still remember how I felt when I read it in conjunction with Robin), as he was brilliant as Robin, and although Steph's short tenure was interesting, Spoiler is where she belongs. What I liked most about the return of Tim as Robin was how he handled himself, feeling upset that he broke his promise, but at the same time seeing that he was doing this for the greater good, and that without him more innocent people would die that already have. I also loved how Tim interacted with Batman, and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) throughout this book, as you could feel that he'd been absent for a while, and although they were happy to see him return, it felt as if he'd never left to begin with.
James Gordon makes an appearance in this book, and it was nice to see him involved in the story, as although at the time he was no longer Commissioner, he still had a lot of experience in this type of situation, and it was nice to see him offer his help to the new Commissioner, Michael Akins. What I liked most about Jim's appearance was that you saw a difference in the way he saw Batman, actually not agreeing with him for once. Besides Batman: Year One Jim has been a big supporter of Batman, but his actions of late have been questionable, and he feels that Batman's trying to make Akins look like a fool, which in a way reflects on him. I also found the way Batman reacted to this interesting, and the change in Batman overall was interesting, showing that drastic times can change a person, even if only slightly.
This book also introduced a big player to the story. I won't name the person as to avoid spoiling anything fro anyone that's not read this book, or anything about it, but I will talk about his presence. I already knew who this person was, having read this story before, as well as stories that preceded this story, but I was still shocked to a certain point on my first read through, and it's remained as dramatic, and suspenseful with each additional read through. There was a sequence in particular that interested me, and it wasn't only dramatic, but a bit gruesome at the same time. Again I won't go into details but it was very exciting, and suspenseful, and made this book better than it was. The thing about this character that I loved the most however had to be the way they were written, as you could tell that the situation that the War Game has put everyone in has played right into their hands, and that they see this as the perfect opportunity to make something for themselves.
Although not quite as exciting as the first Act, this was still a very dramatic book, and had a lot of emotion throughout. I would highly recommend this book, as it was a brilliant continuation to the story arc, which itself created big change. I would also recommend the other War Game Acts, but I will be reviewing the remaining one soon so you can see exactly what I think of them. You can however read my thoughts in my Act One review here.
The next book I'll be reviewing from this series will be Batman: War Games Act 3: EndGame.